Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Catholic, Orthodox report promising progress on unity

This is really cool!  Everything else I've read suggests that unity is long way off, so probably the people directly involved in these talks are too optimistic, but still it's lovely to read:

"There are no clouds of mistrust between our two churches," Orthodox Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon told a news conference. "If we continue like that, God will find a way to overcome all the difficulties that remain."

Did Cardinal Ratzinger or somebody say that when it comes to Catholics and Orthodox, there's nothing lacking for unity except unity?  I can't find the quote.

On nuns wearing habits

I thought this was a great read, and tangentially related to my last post.  (I'd better add that I don't think that any nun who eschews the habit is doing so for bad motives.)

I have a neat little story about this.  Earlier this year I got to spend five days living with the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church (SMMC).  They're located in Spokane, Washington, which was a desert as far as traditional Catholic life was concerned-- "progressive" catechesis, annoying trendy Masses, a huge collapse in the numbers of people going to church, and so on.  In the whole diocese the only nuns left in habits were some cloistered Poor Clares and three or four Missionaries of Charity who'd just moved in (in answer to the bishop's plea about the "spiritual poverty" of his diocese.)

But there was also a big order of nuns up at Mount Saint Michael, who were sedevacantist and not in communion with the local diocese.  There were fifty of them wearing full traditional habits and embracing all the traditional practices of Catholicism (except, of course, that little thing about the Pope-- they believed he was an imposter.)  Then (it's a long, interesting story, but I'm super-condensing it for my purposes), some of the sedevacantist sisters considered their position and ended up leaving their order in 2007 and forming a new one in communion with the Church and under the auspices of the local bishop.  That was the start of the SMMCs; they began with eleven sisters.

Anyway, back in 2007, these recently sedevacantist but newly reconciled nuns, who were of course used to the traditional Latin Mass and all, found themselves living at Spokane's diocesan retreat center.  An older priest was the there, the retreat center's chaplain, and he was kind to them but didn't necessarily see the point of all the traditional stuff.  They told him they needed to make themselves some new habits, since of course they couldn't go on wearing the habits of the sedevacantist order they'd just left.  "Oh, sisters, you don't need to wear habits!" the chaplain told them.  He thought that kind of thing was outdated.

Not long after that a few of the sisters were telling their story to a group of laypeople at the retreat center.  Mother Catherine Joseph happened to mention, "Oh, and we won't be able to wear these habits any more, because they're the habits of our old order."  The laypeople misunderstood and immediately began to protest: "Don't stop wearing habits, sisters!  We need nuns in habits; we don't have any here any more!"  The retreat center's chaplain was there and he saw the laypeople getting distressed and realized that the habit meant a lot to them.

That chaplain ended up buying the material for the new habits as a gift to the sisters. :)

Here's a recent picture of their four new novices with the novice mistress.

When my visit with the SMMC sisters was over, some of them drove me and the other girl who was visiting to the airport.  We hugged them all goodbye and then the other girl and I were in the process of saying goodbye to each other when a man approached us.  "Who were those nuns you were with?" he asked.  He was a Catholic who'd lived in the area and knew its troubles, and he was very surprised and happy to hear that this was a new and growing order right in Spokane that the other girl and I had been visiting because we were thinking of joining them.  He sounded like he hadn't encountered such a thing since his childhood.  It was another little confirmation of how encouraging it can be for Catholics to see habits out and about.  I think it might be good in some way too for those who are distanced from religion and see it as bizarre and unbelievable.  It's silent testimony that there are those who perceive God as so real and religion as so important that they dedicate their whole lives to Him.

I sometimes hear that sisters should dress like everybody else because they're more approachable that way, and it always makes me think, "If they're unrecognizable, who's going to approach them?"  A few times I've found myself walking the streets of some town with a priest wearing his collar.  It very often happened that total strangers stopped the priest to ask a question, or to ask for his prayers.  No one's ever stopped me on the street like that, and there's no reason to expect that anyone would.

There's much more to say, but you know, if I wait till I've said it I'll never publish this post. :)  Gotta go get some other stuff done.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

C.S. Lewis on reverence and inequality

And here's an excerpt from Lewis' essay "Membership", also available in my enviable 888-page Essay Collection:

Equality is a quantitative term and therefore love often knows nothing of it.  Authority exercised with humility and obedience accepted with delight are the very lines along which our spirits live.  Even in the life of the affections, much more in the Body of Christ, we step outside that world which says 'I am as good as you'.  It is like turning from a march to a dance.... We become, as Chesterton said, taller when we bow; we become lowlier when we instruct.  It delights me that there should be moments in the services of my own church when the priest stands and I kneel.  As democracy becomes more complete in the outer world and opportunities for reverence are successively removed, the refreshment, the cleansing, and invigorating returns to inequality, which the Church offers us, become more and more necessary.

   I was thinking the same thing the other day (though not in such clear words) when I asked for a priest's blessing and knelt to receive it.  Opportunities for reverence are increasingly rare.  The American bishops robbed us when they said we should stand to receive Holy Communion instead of kneeling at an altar rail.  Priests shouldn't be absorbed in their own desire to appear humble, but should serve in true humility by filling their proper and very difficult role of authority, no matter how people tear into them for it.  Archbishop Burke, Archbishop Chaput, and Pope Benedict XVI are three examples of that kind of true humility and service.

    Reminds me of another quote, from Fr. Feeney's excellent chapter "The Eucharist in Four Simple Mysteries":

What is Our Lord’s value to us in Real Presence – apart from His other beautiful benefits in graces in the Blessed Eucharist? Well, we now have a place to which we can go, in the presence of which we can say we are, in the direction of which we can bow our heads and fold our hands, to which we can sing our songs, strew our flowers, light our lights, shake our incense; for which we can build our cathedral, top it with a cross, stain-glass it with our windows, give it a center aisle that leads down to the Real Presence, before which we can genuflect. The Real Presence makes our bodies entitled to the prerogatives of adoration.

Some people find no outlet for that inborn desire, and I get cranky if they want to deny its fulfillment to everyone else!

Three Kinds of Men, by C.S. Lewis

I just read this very short essay in my awesome 888-page C.S. Lewis Essay Collection.  Resonates with my own experience for sure.

There are three kinds of people in the world. The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them. In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them—- the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society—- and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on. Their life is divided, like a soldier’s or a schoolboy’s life, into time “on parade” and “off parade,” “in school” and “out of school.”  But the third class is of those who can say like St Paul that for them “to live is Christ.” These people have got rid of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of Self and God by the simple expedient of rejecting the claims of Self altogether. The old egoistic will has been turned round, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.

And because there are three classes, any merely twofold division of the world into good and bad is disastrous. It overlooks the fact that the members of the second class (to which most of us belong) are always and necessarily unhappy. The tax which moral conscience levies on our desires does not in fact leave us enough to live on. As long as we are in this class we must either feel guilt because we have not paid the tax or penury because we have. The Christian doctrine that there is no “salvation” by works done to the moral law is a fact of daily experience. Back or on we must go. But there is no going on simply by our own efforts. If the new Self, the new Will, does not come at His own good pleasure to be born in us, we cannot produce Him synthetically.

The price of Christ is something, in a way, much easier than moral effort—- it is to want Him. It is true that the wanting itself would be beyond our power but for one fact. The world is so built that, to help us desert our own satisfactions, they desert us. War and trouble and finally old age take from us one by one all those things that the natural Self hoped for at its setting out. Begging is our only wisdom, and want in the end makes it easier for us to be beggars. Even on those terms the Mercy will receive us.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fun French Facts

In English you call nuns "Sister" and priests "Father", but in French it's "my sister" and "my father": ma sœur, mon père.  Is it capitalized?  I have no idea.  "Merci, ma sœur!" the Adorers would say to thank each other.

The French for "Mister" is Monsieur. Go here and click on listen to see how much it sounds like the sisters are calling each other "Mister".

Then there's "je veux bien", which means you would like whatever's been suggested, or you very appreciatively accept an invitation.  And "je vais bien", which means, "I'm fine."  They sound a lot alike too. So suppose a cute French guy asks you out to dinner and you try to say, "I'd love that-- je veux bien!" but he hears, "I'm fine," as in, "I don't need your silly invitation; I'm fine without it!"

Thank goodness I needn't worry about that.

I understand that the priests of the Institute of Christ the King used to be addressed as "Monsieur l'Abbé" (which is just what Sir Percy called Chauvelin when the latter was disguised as a priest, but Sir Percy wasn't actually fooled), but since the Institute was elevated to the status of pontifical right about a year ago they're addressed as Monsieur Chanoine.  Or is it Monsieur le Chanoine?  At any rate, I have the impression that in the American parishes they're mostly still addressed as Father Smith (or whatever), not Canon Smith.  Except in writing.  The seminarians are "Monsieur l'Abbé", at least once they get their cassocks after the first year.  I could be wrong about some of this, but it doesn't matter because I plan to waste no opportunity to keep my mouth shut. :)

I'm told that in French, "Amen" is a Novus Ordo thing to say.  The traditional phrase is "Ainsi soit-il", "So be it".  Sermons are likely to begin with the invocation of the Trinity, "Au nom du Père, et du Fils et du Saint-Esprit, Ainsi soit-il", followed by "Mes bien chers frères..."

Also, "Rosary" traditionally means all three sets of mysteries, so if you're only planning on praying five decades you'd say "Chapelet".

Oh, and I hear that the familar "tu" form of address is not used in religious life, which is great-- saves me having to learn it.  I can just call everyone "vous".  The verbs are all different depending on which one you're using, so it's no small thing to have to switch back and forth.  Anyway, how awkward if you can't speak to anybody without specifying whether you consider him a close friend!

My cousin and I used to sing Sandi Patti's "Love in Any Language" at the top of our lungs together.  The very first words in the song are "Je t'aime", which makes it easy for me to remember that phrase now.  (Oh my goodness, I just listened to the 30-second sample and it took me right back to summers spent camping with the cousins, and Allie and I scrambling to get next to each other in the motorhome whenever that song came on.  I was maybe nine years old.  It's really something to think that God knew my future.  I wonder what He knows now....)

My sister taught me bits of French when we visited Canada one summer.  It was years ago, but I remember she would ask, "Quelle heure est-il?" and I'd reply, "Je ne sais pas." So I remember those phrases very well too. :)

Final Fun French Fact: I mainly wrote this post to procrastinate learning more French. :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

French numbers...

...are fine till you get to seventy:

68 sixty-eight
69 sixty-nine
70 sixty-ten
71 sixty-eleven
72 sixty-twelve
76 sixty-sixteen
77 sixty-ten-seven
78 sixty ten-eight
79 sixty-ten-nine
80 four-twenties
81 four-twenty-one
82 four-twenty-two
83 four-twenty-three
88 four-twenty-eight
89 four-twenty-nine
90 four-twenty-ten
91 four-twenty-eleven
98 four-twenty-ten-eight
99 four-twenty-ten-nine

Here's a great site for learning them.  It has a nice quiz here-- click "new number", try to say it, then hit play and hear the French speaker say it.

Also I love that Google translate will speak a French phrase (and its English translation) for you.  The French pronunciation seems to match my tapes well.

Hazelnut pancakes

I had roasted hazelnuts left over from last week's adventures, and when I came home for breakfast this morning I knew that it was time.  Time to make a third recipe from the awesome collection in the latest Martha Stewart Living.  Time to do this:

Hazelnut pancakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups roasted hazelnut meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups lowfat milk
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk together the first four ingredients.  Whisk together the last four ingredients.  Whisk the two mixtures together until just combined (with some lumps remaining).

Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat.  Spray with cooking spray or lightly oil.  Scoop 1/3 cup batter onto heated skillet.  Cook until edges are dry and some small bubbles come to the surface, about 3 minutes.  Flip with a thin spatula and cook on the other side until firm to the touch, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200 degree oven (as for me, I always eat my pancakes fresh and hot, and make more when I'm ready for them).  Repeat with remaining batter.  (You can stick the rest of the batter in the fridge for later too).  Makes 16 pancakes.

Raspberry sauce (I didn't make this part, but just in case you'd like to):
3/4 cup raspberry jam
3 tablespoons water
Fresh lemon juice to taste

Heat jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until warm and pourable.  Add another tablespoon of water if needed.  Stir in lemon juice.

You know I've got pictures for you. :)  Here's hazelnut meal and flour:

Eggs, milk, brown sugar and oil get poured on top.

The mixture gets cooked:

And real maple syrup is poured on

I ate that batch too fast for tantalizing closeups.  Here's the next batch, which I cooked up darker:

Get a good look, now. :)

I must tell you a secret: I halved this recipe.  Except for the hazelnuts.  So there was a double dose of nutty nuts!  And I'm happy to report it was delish.

For those keeping score, I was able to make hazelnut cookies, homemade Nutella, and hazelnut pancakes, all with one 16-ounce bag of hazelnuts from Trader Joe's.  :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy feast of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins!

September 22 is their shared birthday. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

I was moved by this story I just read:
Canadian Dad Sacrifices Self to Save Wife, Unborn Child in Car Crash

Nice interview with Msgr. Schmitz about the Institute of Christ the King

It's an old one, from 2007, but I just read it for the first time.  It's full of information about the Institute, from its founding (with more details than I've seen before) to its spirituality, and of course much of this applies to their sister order that I'm joining.

PDF warning: http://www.institute-christ-king.org/uploads/main/pdf/inside-the-vatican-jan07.pdf

Office of Readings for the feast of St. Matthew

Both readings in the Liturgy of the Hours today are all about calling and vocation, and I found them very moving, perhaps because I'm a month away from joining the nuns. :)

Ephesians 4:1-16
   I, the prisoner in the Lord, implore you to lead a life worthy of your vocation. Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together. There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all, over all, through all and within all.
   Each one of us, however, has been given his own share of grace, given as Christ allotted it. It was said that he would:
When he ascended to the height, he captured prisoners,
he gave gifts to men.
   When it says, ‘he ascended’, what can it mean if not that he descended right down to the lower regions of the earth? The one who rose higher than all the heavens to fill all things is none other than the one who descended. And to some, his gift was that they should be apostles; to some, prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; so that the saints together make a unity in the work of service, building up the body of Christ. In this way we are all to come to unity in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God, until we become the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself.
   Then we shall not be children any longer, or tossed one way and another and carried along by every wind of doctrine, at the mercy of all the tricks men play and their cleverness in practising deceit. If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow in all ways into Christ, who is the head by whom the whole body is fitted and joined together, every joint adding its own strength, for each separate part to work according to its function. So the body grows until it has built itself up, in love.

A sermon by St Bede the Venerable (d. A.D. 735)
Jesus saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him
   Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: Follow me. Jesus saw Matthew, not merely in the usual sense, but more significantly with his merciful understanding of men.
   He saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: Follow me. This following meant imitating the pattern of his life – not just walking after him. St. John tells us: Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
   And he rose and followed him. There is no reason for surprise that the tax collector abandoned earthly wealth as soon as the Lord commanded him. Nor should one be amazed that neglecting his wealth, he joined a band of men whose leader had, on Matthew’s assessment, no riches at all. Our Lord summoned Matthew by speaking to him in words. By an invisible, interior impulse flooding his mind with the light of grace, he instructed him to walk in his footsteps. In this way Matthew could understand that Christ, who was summoning him away from earthly possessions, had incorruptible treasures of heaven in his gift.
   As he sat at table in the house, behold many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. This conversion of one tax collector gave many men, those from his own profession and other sinners, an example of repentance and pardon. Notice also the happy and true anticipation of his future status as apostle and teacher of the nations. No sooner was he converted than Matthew drew after him a whole crowd of sinners along the same road to salvation. He took up his appointed duties while still taking his first steps in the faith, and from that hour he fulfilled his obligation and thus grew in merit. To see a deeper understanding of the great celebration Matthew held at his house, we must realise that he not only gave a banquet for the Lord at his earthly residence, but far more pleasing was the banquet set in his own heart which he provided through faith and love. Our Saviour attests to this: Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
   On hearing Christ’s voice, we open the door to receive him, as it were, when we freely assent to his promptings and when we give ourselves over to doing what must be done. Christ, since he dwells in the hearts of his chosen ones through the grace of his love, enters so that he might eat with us and we with him. He ever refreshes us by the light of his presence insofar as we progress in our devotion to and longing for the things of heaven. He himself is delighted by such a pleasing banquet.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cost of health insurance for women vs. men

I'm researching health insurance, and it appears that women my age have to pay a lot more than men.  For girls and boys the cost is the same, and as we get older it's the men who are more expensive to insure, but right now in the childbearing years, women get charged more.

Now I need to stop procrastinating by blogging.

Update: So I can pay about $1850 for a year of fairly comprehensive health coverage, or pay only $312 for a plan that covers all the same stuff, except... they casually slip in, at #28 on the list of stuff they don't cover: "Treatment for all forms of cancer."

Update: Forget both those plans.  They're not renewable if I come back to the U.S., and of course if I get seriously sick I *will* come back to the U.S., so the plans won't cover me just when I most need coverage.  I'm rather glad I talked to an agent who pointed that out. :)  Okay, back to work.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fr. Barron with a story that makes a great point

H/T romish internet graffiti
I just learned how to make the embedded video start right at the start of the story. :)  Check here if you want the details.

Hazelnut cookies and homemade Nutella!

It's been a fantastic summer here in Southern California, cool and pleasant.  A shame to see it go, but fall is coming, as we can tell by the leaves on the driveway and the hazelnuts being sold in stores (and the Christmas decorations at Kohl's... good grief....)  I saw hazelnuts at Trader Joe's today, and recalled that the latest Martha Stewart Living magazine had featured hazelnuts, and, well...

Hazelnut cookies
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup roasted hazelnut meal
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Beat butter and sugar with a mixer till fluffy.  Add flour, hazelnut meal, and salt.  Beat until dough forms.  (This isn't in the recipe, but I had to add about two teaspoons of half and half to make dough form; it was too crumbly without it.  You could use milk too, just enough to bind it all together.)

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and transfer to baking sheets (use parchment paper if you've got it).  Press balls with a fork to flatten.  Bake until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes.  Let cool.

Such a simple recipe!  Assuming you own a food processor, of course; it ain't happening without that.

So I bought the raw hazelnuts and roasted them at 350°F for about 17 minutes.  You must roast them; it completely changes the flavor.  Anyway, raw hazelnuts have something in them that irritates my throat.

Here are the raw hazelnuts and the magazine the recipe's from (which had a ton of other hazelnut recipes-- I still want to try the hazelnut pancakes!)

And here they are after roasting.

You can see how the dark skins flake off easily when they're roasted.  I rubbed the hazelnuts together in my hands to remove most of the skins, leaving this:

Then I ground those suckers down to hazelnut meal:

Mix that with the butter, sugar, salt and flour.  Add milk or cream if needed, until you get dough:

Roll the dough into balls and mash 'em with a fork.  Use the universally-acknowledged code for nut cookies: a crisscross pattern means peanut butter cookies, while parallel lines mean hazelnut.  (I totally just made that up.)

Then bake them.

And eat them!

Now friends, I didn't mean to make two different sweets in one day.  Even I am not normally that decadent.  But the problem was, the cookies called for half a cup of hazelnut meal and I didn't know how many nuts to grind for that, so I had meal left over.  And lo, Martha had a recipe for homemade Nutella that let me use up that meal (plus grind more).  So rather than wash the food processor only to drag it out again another day...

Hazelnut-Chocolate Spread

7 ounces blanched hazelnuts, toasted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted.

Puree nuts and salt in a food processor until mixture is the texture of peanut butter.  Add sugar and chocolate; pulse until combined.

I ground up a bunch of hazelnuts to the consistency of peanut butter,

And added sugar, salt, and melted chocolate.

So simple, so good!!!

Nutella is perfectly smooth, while my homemade spread is a bit grainy.  And Nutella stays spreadable even if you put it in the fridge, whereas the homemade stuff gets pretty solid when cold.  Also, they don't taste quite the same; there's a different flavor profile.  The real Nutella might have more salt; I'm not sure.  They're both scrumptious.

You can put homemade Nutella on French bread, water crackers, a spoon, your finger, whatever.  What should I put my Nutella on?  I can't decide.  There's probably something in my kitchen that'd be perfect topped with Nutella.  What could it be?  While I think about it, here's a final picture of today's goodies:

This was my 700th blog post and I think the subject was appropriate, don't you?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Overheard from my mom, who loves travel and Tuscany:

"We'll have to go to Florence to see her; she can't come here.  I'm trying to work up some tears about that, but I haven't been able to so far."

I should be ordering my trousseau

But first: a fun mindless game of Chain Reaction!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Just got back from Kohl's

I was acting on a tip that there are long black skirts there; I need one for the convent.   In the meantime it was great to look around the store at all the many, many clothes, and think, "This is all completely irrelevant to me."  I didn't have to care about finding something decent, not pricey and not ugly-- I could just pass it all by.  I know there are people reading this who'll envy that. :)

The other day I told some friends, "I've never achieved my dream of a wardrobe in which everything is so comfortable and flattering that I can just reach in blindfolded and pull out something to wear in seconds."  One of the friends pointed out that becoming a nun pretty much achieves the dream perfectly.  :) :)

In other news, I've always laughed at the stories about the Académie française enforcing French culture and fighting the Anglicization of the language by opposing English loanwords-- but it's not as funny when I have to learn to pronounce "voiture" instead of "car".  The French string together their vowel sounds in a most astounding way.

Also, I'm back from a great trip to Northern California and I'll blog it when I can, but right now I have to finish a French language tape.  No, I'm not blogging right now.  It's your imagination.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Road trippin'

Tomorrow I'm off to Sebastopol, California, to visit college friends.  There may be blackberries involved.  You kids be good while I'm gone!

(The picture is some of the Adorers walking the tunnels under the main train station in Florence.  We were on our way to Mass on Pentecost Sunday.)

The best lemon bars, by far

Somewhere there's a book that says that Rachel's feast day is September 2. That's Rachel the matriarch, from the book of Genesis, wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph and Benjamin, the very woman I was named for. I don't know if the book was up to date, and I doubt it's proper Catholic practice to refer to those who died before the time of Christ as saints. But there's one thing I'm sure of: I have pictures of lemon bars, and I want to post them.  So let's all celebrate my name day!

I like regular lemon bars, with their bland crust, lemony filling, and powdered sugar topping.  Nothing against those.  But these here lemon bars, with thyme in the crust for depth and ginger in the filling for zip-- these are scrumptious.

See below for the recipe.  First you mix up all the crust ingredients:

And then press out the crust in a pan.

Bake the crust till the edges are golden.

Meanwhile, whip up some filling.  You must own a microplane zester to get your lemon zest.

Now here's the fun part: pour the filling on top of the hot-from-the-oven crust, and hear the sizzle!

This is why I love baking.  Non-bakers might eat the final product, but they miss these fun steps on the way.

Now you've got some leftover crust saved, and you sprinkle that on top.  (The filling in this picture is still liquid, but it's turned white from some reaction with the hot crust.)

Bake the whole thing...

...and top with lemon glaze.  I flick on the glaze with a fork, trying always to move in one direction.  Some like to double the glaze and really coat the top.

Then you chop that thing into squares (removing some to test for quality assurance)...

...and they look like this!

Or better yet, like this!

And just before you gulp one down it looks like this!

The recipe:

2 cups flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
3/4 tsp. ginger (powdered)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 eggs

3-4 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix all the crust ingredients together. Set aside 1/3 of the mixture (about one cup) and press out the remaining mixture into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned.

Combine the filling ingredients and whisk until blended. Pour over the crust. Sprinkle reserved crust mixture over the top and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Mix the glaze and drizzle it over the bars. It will set when the bars cool.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Nun pun

I have a set of friends from St. Peter Chanel that used to get together to study encyclicals and such, back when Mery and I had an apartment very near church.  We who remain still assemble from time to time, but Mery is now a Dominican nun.  When I told the others I was heading to a convent too, Christie remarked that within our little group, I'm second to nun. :)